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Longtime legislator from Santa Fe won’t run again

Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, right, listens during a Senate committee hearing in March on a broad tax package he sponsored. A modified version of the bill was eventually signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE – Democratic state Rep. Jim Trujillo, chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, will not seek reelection in 2020 to a new two-year term representing a Santa Fe-based seat.

Trujillo, who will be 81 at the time of next year’s primary election, said Tuesday that he plans to finish his current term but cited health issues as the primary reason for his decision to step down after next year.

“I’m satisfied with the number of years I spent in the Legislature,” he told the Journal.

Trujillo, who was first appointed to the state House in 2003, was the sponsor and primary architect of a tax package approved during this year’s 60-day session that paved the way for state and local governments to start levying a tax on online sales – a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed states to do so – and requires nonprofit hospitals to pay the same tax rate that other hospitals do.

In addition, the legislation will likely create a new personal income tax bracket for higher-earning New Mexicans, while reducing the tax burden on others by increasing an existing tax credit for working families.

Among other legislative accomplishments, Trujillo cited his work on annual public infrastructure bills, which this year contained $9 million for expanding the Santa Fe Regional Airport.

“I think I did my best to take care of my district,” he said.

Trujillo missed much of the 2017 legislative session because of health problems but returned to cast a House floor vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have diverted more money from New Mexico’s largest permanent fund for early childhood services.

That measure passed the House but ultimately stalled – as it has in other years – in the Senate.

A business-minded Democrat, Trujillo said he supports overhauling the state’s gross receipts tax by reducing the base rate but does not expect a major effort to address the subject during the 30-day session that starts in January.

He also said the state needs to take more steps to address climate change, even if it means moving away from one of its primary revenue sources.

“We’re going to have to wean our way off of oil and gas,” Trujillo said. “I think we need to pick up the pace.”

Trujillo, who said he does not plan to endorse a potential successor next year for his House District 45 seat, is at least the third incumbent House member planning to leave the Legislature next year.

Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde, will have to vacate his seat since he is running for an open northern New Mexico congressional seat, and Rep. Bill Pratt, D-Albuquerque, said he does not plan to seek reelection next year – and may step down before his term ends – because of health problems.

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